Spain has fallen for Bad Gyal, an artist who rose to national fame recasting trap in her native Catalan, and who has built her name on a string of addictive dancehall songs like “Mercadona,” “Jacaranda,” and a Vilassar de Mar translation of Riri’s “Work.” Her songs are convincing entries in the global dancehall movement, landing her on Mad Decent mixtapes and with a debut at Sónar Festival later this week.
The artist comes hard with a video for her new track “Nicest Cocky” featuring Chilean producer Paul Marmota, who deploys his trademark matte black club chimes over a perreable beat and auto-tuned lyrics in dancehall’s Jamaican patois. Directed by Roger Guárdia, the clip gives eerie trap fashion, with slo-mo car hood twerks, selective lighting, and moody Xanax party shots that trigger Fiona Apple flashbacks. The high-budget visuals succeed in giving the impression that Bad Gyal is ready for international exposure.
That’s proving complicated, though. Nilu Haidari’s interview with the artist for Noisey addressed issues of cultural appropriation and suggested that the Catalan artist is dismissive of critiques that she is making music in a genre pioneered by black Caribbeans. Meanwhile, the Spanish media has been quick to point out that Bad Gyal is part of a thriving national dancehall scene.
Time will tell how Bad Gyal tackles these issues. “Nicest Cocky” does help build a case that she could offer distinct interpretations of dancehall, or at the very least projects with the Latin American producers who are down for her mission.